) -- Europe's finance ministers agreed to boost the firepower of the bailout fund for ailing eurozone countries. They had hoped to increase the European bailout fund to €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), but failed to do so at a meeting Tuesday night.

A European official said Wednesday the future of the eurozone could rest with a meeting of European heads of state on Dec. 9.

"We are now entering the critical period of 10 days to complete and conclude the crisis response of the European Union," EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said. He added: "There is no one single silver bullet that will get us out of this crisis."

Europe may have to turn to the International Monetary Fund to help it stem the eurozone's two-year debt crisis.

At the start of trading Wednesday, European stocks moved lower and U.S. futures suggested Wall Street would open down. But both moved higher after the People's Bank of China, in an an effort to stimulate the economy, cut its banks' reserve requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage points.

In Asia, prior to the move from China, Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.5% to close at 8,434.61, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.5%. Shares in mainland China fell 3.3%.

Investors on Wednesday were digesting a ratings downgrade from Standard & Poor's of some of the globe's biggest banks.

Standard & Poor's cut its ratings


Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report


Bank of America's

(BAC) - Get Report

Merrill Lynch unit and


(C) - Get Report

long-term debt to A- from A, and put their ratings on a "negative" watch.

S&P's new ratings were part of a sweeping change to its rating methodology for 37 financial institutions published earlier this month.

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

was downgraded to A+ from AA-, and


(JPM) - Get Report

was cut to A from A+.

Among the data on the economic calendar Wednesday are the weekly mortgage applications index from the Mortgage Bankers Association at 7 a.m. EST; the monthly payrolls report from Automatic Data Processing for November at 8:15 a.m.; and pending home sales for September at 10 a.m. The

Federal Reserve

also releases the Beige Book for November at 2 p.m.

President Obama is traveling Wednesday to Pennsylvania to push for an extension and expansion of this year's payroll tax cut, a move designed to increase consumer demand and boost the economy. If Congress doesn't act by the end of the year, the full payroll tax of 6.2% would be restored, increasing taxes on 160 million Americans, according to

The Associated Press


Congressional Republicans on Tuesday said they would support the payroll tax cut extension, after months of not exactly saying they would.

"In all likelihood we will agree to continue the current payroll tax relief for another year," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said after a closed-door meeting of his colleagues,



Herman Cain

said Tuesday he was "reassessing" whether to remain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination after allegations surfaced about a 13-year extramarital affair.

Cain, who at one time during the race garnered frontrunner status, denied the latest charges, as he has earlier allegations of sexual harassment.

"We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people's minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth," said Cain, the former pizza executive.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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